The Middle Ages

From the 4th to the 7th century, hardly any information is known about the civilization of Veldhoven. For many parts in the area, this is still a great unknown. The first evidence of inhabitants in the area dates back to the early Middle Ages to the 7th century. Meerveldhoven, one of the later parishes and village centers of Veldhoven, was probably an important center at that time. A rich field of graves was found in Meerveldhoven dating back to the Merovingian period (5th-8th century), a period named after the Frankish king Merovech, who lived in the 5th century.

Abbey of Lorsch
The oldest documents relating to the parish and a number of farms in Meerveldhoven date from the Carolingian period, named after Emperor Charlemagne. These pieces are among the oldest written sources in the Low Countries. These documents show that Meerveldhoven was a domain of the Benedictine Abbey of Lorsch. The town of Lorsch is located in Germany along the Rhine. Of note, the church of Meerveldhoven and some of the farms were donated by noblemen. This domain of the Abbey of Lorsch was lost and eventually fell into the hands of the Chapter of St. Lambertus Cathedral in Liège. The late medieval domain of this Liège cathedral chapter survived until the 18th century. Those who lived of these farms and lands were obligated to pay dues to the cathedral chapter every year.

The royal hall of Lorsch Abbey is one of the most important Carolingian buildings in Germany. This abbey received money from property in Meerveldhoven, which were donated by local noblemen in the 8th century.

Through the Late Middle Ages, parishes also emerged in the villages of Veldhoven, Zeelst and Oerle, each with its own church. In the 13th century, the Norbertine abbey of Postel had controlling power over the churches of Oerle and Veldhoven. The priory of Hooidonk, just south of Nederwetten, part of the council of Nuenen, had the rights over the church of Zeelst.

Independent magistrates’ bench of Oerle
Legally, the territory of the villages of Oerle, Veldhoven, Meerveldhoven and Zeelst belonged to the magistrates’ bench of Eersel in the 13th century and fell under the Duchy of Brabant. The territory consisted of almost the entire southern part of the Kempenland quarter. At the beginning of the 14th century, the magistrates’ bench of Eersel was split up, creating the independent magistrates’ bench of Oerle. The magistrates’ bench of Oerle included the villages of Oerle, Veldhoven, Zeelst, Meerveldhoven, Blaarthem, Vessem, Knegsel and Wintelre. Oerle became a so called ‘freedom’ in the 14th century, meaning that the population was given the same freedoms as those of the city of Den Bosch. This however, did not give Oerle city rights.

At the top of this page you see the seal of ‘freedom’ of Oerle.  The shield of the Duke of Brabant is seen next to the tree on the seal.

This 17th century farm annex inn in Zandoerle is called the Dingbank, where the aldermen of Oerle used to meet. As there was no town hall yet, people met in an inn or at the church.

Large farms belonging to noble families
The earliest written information about the hamlets and their farms in this region are dated to the Middle ages. The more significant properties were the large farms belonging to noble families, prominent local large landowners, the Abbey of Postel and ecclesiastical institutions in Den Bosch, such as the Clarissen monestary.

A leasehold was established in 1390 on this farm on the Heike, near Cobbeek, better known as Clarissenhoeve. It was initially the possession of the Geefhuis in Den Bosch, and was eventually sold to the Clarissen’s.

In the 15th century, the population was greatly impacted by the wars. Warfare had changed to such an extent that the noble lords and their feudal men no longer faced each other, but rather fought the mercenaries of mighty princes. Migrating and plundering soldiers ravaged the villages in Kempenland. However, the 15th century was not as nearly as bad as the 16th century. Circumstances became more dire in the 16th century, when arson, pillage and extorsion by the armies occurred on an almost daily basis.

Read more in the next chapter Independent Estates